Monday, August 16, 2010

Be, don't Get.

This morning, I came across a quote from a Fit-Bottomed Girls interview with Cat Cora that struck a chord within me:

"Make being an active, healthy person a part of who you are. Don’t look at it as a task or something that has to get checked off everyday. Once it’s ingrained in your daily lifestyle, it’s something you look forward to and you never dread having to get your workout in."

I think allowing "healthy" to become a part of me, rather than just an extension, has always been an internal conflict of mine.

When I first decided to finally lose weight a few years ago, I made the simple claim that I needed to "lose weight and get healthy." Makes sense, right? But I'm starting to realize that there's a difference between "getting healthy" and being healthy. For me, to "get" healthy implies that the healthy state will only last temporarily; being a healthy person implies that the healthy state will be infinite because it's not something that can easily be taken away, just like a sense of humor, or any other internal trait that defines you. (Yes, good health can easily be taken away with daily cheeseburgers and zero exercise, but just humor me and play along, eh?)

As I'm writing this post, it also occurred to me that although levels of health can fluctuate, it never goes away completely (until you die, obviously). Everyone is living in their own unique state of health, some better than others, depending on how well they eat and how much they exercise.

Cat Cora's quote, obviously promoting the ideal/high-quality level of health, felt like a light slap in the face. Even though I've been fairly consistent over the past few years in making better food choices and increasing my physical activity, most days, I treat these acts as tasks; something I have to do. Now, there are exceptions of course, like cooking a particular healthy meal because I think it tastes good and replenishes my body well, not so much because it has a certain number of calories. But still, for the most part (ESPECIALLY with working out), doing the necessary things to be healthy usually feel like chores to me. If I don't do my chores regularly, my body will get "messy." And because of this mindset, there is usually a certain level of dread when I'm chopping onions or alternating squats with lunges.

Most of the time, that level of dread is pretty low; it's certainly not debilitating, but it's still there nonetheless. And it's there because of the way I choose to think about health's role in my life.

Because I haven't taken the time to sit down and really look at what it means to me to be healthy, I tend to struggle more than I should with regular food and fitness funks. When I was overweight, I'd look at healthy people and couldn't see myself ever being "one of them." And even when I daydreamed about being thin and what it would take to get there (e.g., dieting and exercise), I didn't realistically figure health into the equation. I didn't open myself to the possibility that I'd experience a deeper internal change that involved embracing good health as a part of me. I just looked at health as an external benefit, on par with fitting into smaller clothes.

So this week (and the weeks to come), I'm going to put more thought and effort into changing the way I look at being healthy. I know that some days, it's still gonna suck, waking up at 5 am to get in a workout, but if I can at least change my attitude and not look at it as something I have to do, rather something I just DO because it's a [cool] part of who I am, perhaps it'll suck less and less and at least put a smile on my face.


Anonymous said...

This is a great post!! I like to think of myself as a healthy person or one who is transitioning to one but I still like bad stuff from now to then. I am more conscious of what I eat now, how much water I have each day and how that affects how I feel, moving my body and trying to be active as possible. Some days, it just doesn't happen and I want to be lazy but other days, I try the best I can.

Tamara said...

Exactly- and I probably should've clarified that a bit more... I don't expect to eat healthy 100% of the time or never miss a workout (what kind of life is that?!), but I think if I accepted the idea of being a generally healthy person overall, instead of treating health as an external activity that I merely "participate" in most of the time, it would be easier to find balance on a daily basis, which would include having the occasional treat without freaking out or going overboard and then feeling like I *have* to workout to "make up" for said treat.

MaryBeth said...

That was a great post to read, thank you. I hope that sometime soon I can switch my thinking as well, its still a long ride though and I am stil setting those silly goals in my head of '10 more pounds and I will mke this a routine.' But I think that its true that if I can learn to be healthy instead of get healthy it'll be easier, and I'll be easier on myself ^^;